Teach My Kids … But Not So Much

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” –John F. Kennedy

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” –Flannery O’Connor

“Those who trust us educate us.” –T. S. Eliot

And if they happen not to trust us? Looks like they’ll indoctrinate us instead. If we let them. Sugar-coat our shameful past, then tell our children the fairy tale version is the whole truth. And if they can, they’ll also sell us a million board-feet or so of toothpicks whittled from Washington’s famous cherry tree. Or maybe from his wooden teeth? Either way, you do want your authentic little piece of history, don’t you? Order now, while supplies last!

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Newsweek: Revised AP U.S. History Standards Will Emphasize American Exceptionalism

Crooks and Liars * July 29, 2015

The company behind Advanced Placement courses for U.S. high school students will release a revision to the standards for AP U.S. history on Thursday morning, after significant pushback from conservatives who claimed the redesigned course framework, released last year, painted American history in too negative a light.

http://www.newsweek.com/whats-driving-conservatives-mad-about-new-history-course-264592

The new framework significantly pares down last year’s framework, simplifying and condensing the course’s Thematic Learning Objectives from 50 to 19, according to an official at the College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers AP exams. In the process, a new section on the concept of “American exceptionalism” has been added. Some names that were omitted from last year’s framework, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, have been added—a key sticking point for critics of the prior document, who objected to Founding Fathers being omitted and negative aspects in American history being more emphasized, they claimed, than positive periods.

http://www.thestate.com/news/local/education/article13886402.html

Ben Carson, a GOP presidential candidate, said the curriculum was so anti-American that students who complete it would be ready to sign up for Isis.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/29/ben-carson-new-ap-u-s-history-course-will-make-kids-want-to-sign-up-for-isis/

The revised framework will be effective immediately, and doesn’t require a change in any textbooks, according to the College Board. High school classes in many parts of the country begin in three weeks. The AP test that will be administered in May 2016 has already been written.

Last year, after the College Board released its redesigned standards for AP U.S. history, a document more than a decade in the making, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas all introduced bills threatening to pull the course altogether. The Jefferson County school district in Colorado convened a board committee to review the curriculum, stating that all materials should promote “patriotism” and “respect for authority,” and “should not encourage or condone civil disorder.” The district stopped pursuing the review after hundreds of students walked out of classes in protest.

The issue made it to the Republican National Committee, which passed a resolution accusing the AP U.S. framework of promoting “a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects,” and recommending that Congress withhold federal funding to the College Board pending a rewrite.

In October, the College Board began accepting comment from teachers and the general public on the standards. In April, Trevor Packer, College Board’s head of AP announced that revisions would be published in July based on the feedback.

Teachers Newsweek spoke with, who sat on a committee to draft the framework, stressed that the document was never meant to be a description of the totality

of what an AP U.S. history teacher must teach, but rather a simplified outline that guides the course toward certain themes. The impetus for the original revision, published last year, was to redirect the course away from rote memorization of facts and more toward “historical thinking skills,” according to Ted Dickson, a teacher at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina. For example, when he used to teach about the Protestant Reformation in the United States, his students “had to learn 20 different names. Now with the new course it’s more about understanding a few of them well.” Dickson has been involved in the drafting of the new revision since its inception a decade ago, and served as co-chair of its development committee. He has taught AP U.S. history for 25 years.

But Geri Hastings, a teacher at Catonsville High School in Catonsville, Maryland, who has been teaching AP U.S. history for 35 years and also helped draft the redesign, said on Wednesday that nuance had been lost on critics.

“The amount of press it got was entirely ridiculous because I don’t think they understood what it was meant to be. It was a framework that meant to let teachers understand the limits of what would be tested. You add examples, you teach it how you want to teach it, just make sure you teach these important concepts,” Hastings said. But critics saw it as excluding, among other things, favorite Founding Fathers and historical events that contribute to America’s legacy, such as its role in winning World War I and World War II. In the new framework, America’s military achievements are given a greater emphasis than in the last document.

The College Board official did confirm that “American exceptionalism” was added to the new document. The official said that the phase didn’t appear in the 2014 edition because the organization assumed it wasn’t something it needed to spell out as part of what would be taught in an American history course.

In other areas, language was changed or eliminated. “If there were places where we felt like the language of the framework seemed to unintentionally indicate some kind of a bias we tried to eliminate that. There were places where some critics…felt like the way things were phrased was anti-American. It didn’t make any sense to me. But if it felt like the way things were phrased indicated any kind of a bias or slant, we tried to neutralize that bias.”

Hastings says that the changes were for the sake of removing some value judgments from the framework, and letting facts speak for themselves.

“Some of the changes sound less pompous. Less morally judgmental,” Hastings says. “I think if [language] was tamped down, it was less about the criticism, but [rather] to make it less value-based. Just to put it out there, and teachers could then massage it as they taught it. I think before it was a little more value-laden. Now it’s like, here are the facts, teach it how you want to teach it. … I think it’s just more balanced, more mainstream, yet it doesn’t push things under the rug. There have been problems in our country. We enslaved people, and it was horrible. Again, you can’t just focus on that to the exclusion of other things.”

As the College Board put it in a statement to Newsweek , the revised framework will “clarify and encourage a balanced approach to the teaching of American history, while remaining faithful to the requirements that colleges and universities set for academic credit.”

“Given the substantive feedback we have received from educators and the general public representing a range of political viewpoints, we are confident that the concerns some have expressed over the past year will be resolved by the new edition.”

http://crooksandliars.com/2015/07/revised-ap-us-history-standards-emphasize

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About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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13 Responses to Teach My Kids … But Not So Much

  1. sojourner says:

    Excellent, Linda! Loved the tune and lyrics!

    “Some names that were omitted from last year’s framework, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, have been added—a key sticking point for critics of the prior document, who objected to Founding Fathers being omitted and negative aspects in American history being more emphasized, they claimed, than positive periods.”

    What fucking “positive periods” were they were referring to, the civil war, the great depression, ww 1 and 2, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Watergate, 9/11, 2008, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, etc, etc? There can be no positive in a country that has been waging continual war since it oozed out of the King George III’s asshole!

    “Ben Carson, a GOP presidential candidate, said the curriculum was so anti-American that students who complete it would be ready to sign up for Isis.”

    They would have to sign up for ISIS at CIA headquarters! This asshole should spend some time with the rest of the world, and then he would hear even more negativity, even more truth about this curse on the world!

    Here’s the crux, and I am a former teacher:

    “We can’t have the historical truth being taught in schools! If the people ever find out this government was a lie from the beginning, they will tear us apart, from limb to limb, and our elite-swine bosses as well. The party would be over, and we can’t have that!”

    More brainwashing/mind-control of children!! The molestation and rape of the mind and soul!

    • Sojourner, Wouldn’t you think that if you love your children, you would want to provide them with tools to think and correctly evaluate the world? But then, we start them out on santa and the easter bunny. Then we feed them the cherry tree, the tea party, and all those noble just wars. I’m never sure which is more infuriating — the shameful things my country does, or the hypocrisy of calling it all patriotic and righteous. Thanks for your good comments. – Linda

      • sojourner says:

        Homeschooling!! Education needs to be in the hands and control of parents, not the government!

        “I’m never sure which is more infuriating — the shameful things my country does, or the hypocrisy of calling it all patriotic and righteous.”

        I hear you, Linda! The hypocrisy of it all is beyond nauseating!

        Thanks for the excellent post!

        • Yes, home schooling is an option — though the folks I know doing that are merely doing it for religious brainwashing, which doesn’t seem to be a net gain! And that’s another money-maker for the corporations, selling educational materials at retail to parents. The answer? Short of busting
          our whole corrupt system, I’m not sure. Whitewashing the past … and present … will never help though. Thanks again for your kind words. – Linda

          • sojourner says:

            Yes, I know there are many who homeschool for that purpose. But more and more I see people homeschooling because they see what is happening in pub ed and want their children out of the mind-control system!

            I don’t have the answers either, Linda! I hope someone does and soon, or we’re all in for a world of shit even worse than what we have now!

            • My concern is, only part of the conditioning is in school — it’s a total immersion experience. School, media, marketing, all push whatever is good for money and power. Nothing new, but it’s either become more obvious, or I’ve developed antibodies over the years. You’d think so many discrepancies would raise questions eventually. But … many folks I know don’t seem to want to know more than they’re told. Or they swallow the cynical misdirection of our well-founded suspicions. Let’s keep questioning, to me there’s no other choice. – Linda

              • sojourner says:

                Absolutely, homeschooling is just one part of the answer to the problem. I have friends who homeschooled all four of their children, and they raised them to question authority and be free thinkers. They also kept a close overview of what their use of technology and watching tv. I have never seen a tv on in that house, and they have one. These kids are well educated verbal, creative and a joy to be around, and they have educated, strong opinions about what is happening in the world.

                “But … many folks I know don’t seem to want to know more than they’re told. Or they swallow the cynical misdirection of our well-founded suspicions.”

                Krause, in the following article, speaks of this very thing. Some people are content to be enslaved.

                https://anoutsidersojourn2.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/who-is-responsible-for-this-totalitarian-state-we-the-people/

                Let’s hope these folks are becoming a minority!

                • That would be progress. It may take an evolutionary leap of some kind first. But I’m impatient! We already have good enough brains — most of us could do better than the world as we know it! At least we can do all we can to keep from chaining ourselves in ignorance and fear.

  2. sojourner says:

    Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    You want proof that your public education system is nothing but a “dumbing down,” propagandizing tool of the elite-swine, Mr and Ms Merica?

    Well here is some!

  3. American exceptionalism was all I ever learned in school. The same with my mother. Plus ca change, right?

    • Same here … but apparently we got over it. It is sad to handicap our children with such a load of bullshit to clear out of their brains before they can get some idea of reality. Thanks for your good comment! – Linda

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